nurse: Yes, is this maarmie?
nurse: You called earlier with a question about some lab results?
maarmie: Yes. I was looking over the results last night and I'm sure you're tired of hearing this but I was on Yahoo! Health trying to figure out what my results mean and I'm a little concerned about my red blood cell...
nurse (terse): Uh...what did (the woman who initially called you about the results) tell you about them?
maarmie: She told me the results "came back fine," but I was on Yahoo! Health and my red blood cells...
nurse (more terse): I'm going to have to get with the doctor and tell her you have questions about your lab results because you were reading Yahoo! Health.
maarmie (unsure): Uh, ok. Bye.
Three months ago, a woman in white with an awful chairside disposition (she wouldn't give me candy for being a big girl!) robbed me of a few vials of blood so my cholesterol, blood sugar level, red and white blood cells and about 400 million other things could be tested. My body appears to be nearly indestructible when the results are weighed against my near total inactivity and the avalanche of fat, sugar and carbohydrates I have wallowed in in recent years. Blood sugar level: stellar. Sodium, potassium, chloride, carbon dioxide, calcium, protein and albumin levels: also stellar. Bad cholesterol: I've got it in a super death grip! However...
Four categories are marked with a little "H" for "high": MCH and RDW (scores of 34.4 and 18.8 when "normal" is 27-34 and 11.7-15.0, respectively), bilirubin (a score of 1.7 when "normal" is 0.1-1.2) and ALT (a score of 42 when "normal" is 0-40), and my HDLs (good cholesterol) are 35, below the "normal" range of 40-59.
After reading Yahoo! Health for about three hours last night, I am convinced I'm standing on the edge of some sort of dirt cliff overlooking the Grand Canyon and that it's raining hard and the dirt is turning into mud, slippery mud, and that I'm sliding toward the edge of the cliff and that there's noone out there who can help me and I'm sliding, sliding, sliding and wearing some kind of high heel with no traction and there's not a tree, not a bush, not even a fucking flower to grab onto.
I just know my body is turning against itself with some wild, as-of-yet-diagnosable or treatable strain of hepatitis or possibly anemia, major liver failure or, worse yet, polycythemia vera. I'm practically just sitting here waiting for my large and many red blood cells to plot against me and clot a major and important artery or vein or whatever and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Yahoo! Health is a godsend for borderline hypochondriacs like myself. That site is so understandable and user friendly that, for years, I have had the advantage of click click clicking my way to terminal illness instead of bugging an actual doctor every other week or so. It really cuts down on my copayment budget when I can diagnose myself and translates into money saved for important things like CDs or candy.
When I lived in New York, I developed tremors in my arms and legs and enjoyed numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. For more than a year, I waited for the tremors and numbness to come back after they left me and for them to worsen and began mentally preparing myself for the eventual bumps into stationary objects and falls as multiple sclerosis overtook my body and slowly, yet deliberately, rendered me helpless and confined to a wheelchair.
Turns out, it was just stress. Cleared right up when I moved to Portland. I may have been wrong, but at least I had the benefit of beginning to prepare for the worst. I would have made a kick ass Girl Scout.
Update: 3:59 p.m. - I talked to the nurse who talked to the doctor who read my lab results in their entirety...again. Nurse assures me that doctor assures me that about 10 percent of people with "normal" results test "abnormal" in one area. According to doctor, I was only "one point" above the upper limit for "normal" in all the categories (in fact, I believe I was two points above "normal" in the ALT category) and that I am supposedly OK. Whatever. They just don't want to face the facts or deliver the bad news. I gotcha. I'll just die of liver failure or hepatitis so they don't have to be in the uncomfortable position of telling someone as young as myself that I will be dead before my next birthday. Which is on Friday. No biggie. I'll just start digging the hole.